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B-Leaguers/Hooligan Crooners Interview

There’s been a good bit of activity on the punk-pop front already this year including a number of recent releases. That being said, B-Leaguers and Hooligan Crooners are upping the ante. Not only will they be releasing a split album but they’ll be touring together as well. Recently, I had the opportunity to ask Jim Strying (B-Leaguers) and Barry Phillips (Hooligan Crooners) about the new LP, touring and the state of the business of punk-pop. You can read the interview below.

The first date slated for March 31 coincides with the release date of Tales From A Punk Rock Road Trip, said split album. The album release show will be at the Mulberry Tavern, Sheffield. For more information on the album release show at Mulberry Tavern, visit the venue’s Facebook page. More on that later. Without further adieu, the interview…

You’ve got a “split album” on the way entitled Tales From A Punk Rock Road Trip with Hooligan Crooners. What made you decide to release a “split album”? And what makes your band and Hooligan Crooners a good match?

Jim: Both bands share similar influences and listen to the same kind of bands. We also share the punk rock DIY ethic and approach to things. If nothing’s happening, make it happen! They’re a great band, great guys and also work hard running their punk rock label, PWVA Records. We knocked a few ideas around between us, and a split mini album was suggested. We all agreed it was a great idea and ‘Tales From A Punk Rock Road Trip’ is the result.

Bools: Well, we had a good feeling from the time we first heard B-Leaguers. As a band we all agreed that we’d like to collaborate with them somehow. Now that both bands have recorded their new tracks for the split I think it just hits you how well suited we are…the bands sound quite different but they are essentially great songs – melodic songs, melodic vocals but driven by dirty guitars, bass and drums, played with lots of energy. The songs really do sound…celebratory. That may not be the right word but there seems to be a real sense of “well, we’re still here and we’re still determined to enjoy ourselves”. Perhaps it’s celebratory with a degree of defiance thrown into the mix.

It was only when we (Hooligan Crooners) listened to the new tracks one-after-the-other that the other similarities clicked…we’re both bands from “uncool” and out-of-the-way places, ploughing a furrow of doing exactly what we like…and within each band we cross-generations without ever really being conscious of it – there is quite a spread of ages across the bands but that was never by design. It was just about a bunch of people who wanted to play punk-rock’n’roll together. Obviously in Hooligan Crooners we also cross-nationalities and several national borders!

Are the songs on the new mini-album based on real stories from the road or did Tales of a Punk Rock Road Trip just sound like a good title?

Jim: Our songs are all based around real life. Things people can relate and connect to. So they may not be about actual life on the road, but we’re all on a road trip of some kind, I guess. We always try and be as honest and from the heart as we can when writing, I hope people can hear that in the songs. And yes, it’s just a great title, too.

Bools: These three Hooligan Crooners songs are very much based in “experience” – albeit composite and with some poetic licence taken occasionally. These three are not so much songs from “touring” but a more general “life on the road”. When you get to the age some of us are you’ve done a fair amount of nomadic wandering and time “on the road” more generally…just life experiences really. There are several songs in the set which are specifically based on (and often jokingly romanticising) some of the experiences we’ve had when travelling as a band.

In today’s business model, are albums (or mini-albums) a tool to promote live dates or does it work the other way around?

Jim: It hopefully works both ways. It’s a great way to promote both bands and introduce your music to a whole new bunch of fans, who might not have heard of you otherwise. It’s always been a popular thing to do amongst punk bands, we’re just keeping the tradition going. If people like the songs, they’ll want to hear them played live and come down to the show.

Bools: The hope is that it’s mutually beneficial. The truth is that it is extremely hard to make money (even break-even) out of CD and download sales OR live work. Albums and mini-albums are something of a compromise which we hope benefits listeners, bands and record label. To record a full album for each of the bands would probably be prohibitive. However, a “split” means that each band gets heard by a different audience and to a certain degree each band has “skin-in-the-game”…they are invested. Times are hard in terms of covering costs gigging – we speak with so many bands who say times are tougher than they have ever known.

This concludes part one of this interview. The second and final part will publish here on Thursday March 16th.